FIFTEEN people were killed on Thursday when a gang of armed men attacked two banks and a police station in the Nigerian town of Offa.
The brazen assault happened in part of Nigeria’s volatile central region, where criminal gangs and cattle rustlers regularly attack security forces.
“They attacked the police station and at the same time attacked two banks,” said Kwara state police spokesman Ajayi Okasanmi, adding that nine police and six civilians died in the violence.
The gang invaded a busy commercial area where several banks and the police station are located in broad daylight around 4:50 pm, said Okasanmi.
“We are going all-out to ensure we arrest them,” he said, adding that the haul from the robbery was not immediately known.
The robbers charged into the banks and shot people on the spot before making off with bags of cash on stolen motorbikes, said a witness.
“They split into two groups. One group attacked the divisional police station where they opened indiscriminate fire,” said a resident who witnessed the attack, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The other group attacked the two banks, shooting people they met inside, many of them in the head,” he said.
“They carried away money in sacks from the banks and fled on motorcycles they seized from okada (motorcycle taxis) riders.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki, one of Nigeria’s highest-ranking politicians, commiserated with the victims of the “savage attack” in Offa.
In a statement released on Thursday, Saraki said the robbery “is a despicable act committed by cruel individuals.”
Gang attacks are a persistent problem for Nigeria, adding to security woes in a country already grappling with the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency.